Posts Tagged MMORPG

Leaving this broken Earth.

Fallen EarthSo, I’ve finally given up playing Fallen Earth.

As a near-future apocalypse MMO the game had a lot of potential, it didn’t feel too ‘grindy’ for a free-2-play (F2P), there was a lot of content in the huge starter area to keep you busy, and they were gradually ironing out bugs, but recent changes have been an obvious move to try to get more money out of the player base. I don’t have a problem with that in itself, the F2P launch did bring in a lot of new players, and a large proportion of those probably didn’t spend a penny towards the running costs of the game (including me).

The problem is that the changes were quite drastic and an obvious crippling of the ability of F2P players to level up and be self-sustainable as F2P characters.

Supposedly some of these changes are to stimulate more interaction between seasoned players and new F2P players, creating a player market for crafted goods, etc, but I don’t see it happening. Prices in the in-game market are ridiculously high and now that seasoned players know newbies can’t craft as much of their own gear it’s only going to go higher.

I don’t mind games trying to make money, but removing features from F2P players after they have been using them for nearly six months then trying to sell them those features as a perk just doesn’t sit right with me.

Coupled with ongoing issues with lag, and a friend’s regular disconnects when playing making grouping difficult, I’ve decided to hang up my dust-mask and move on to other games.

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Fallout meets Mad Max via Gamma World

Fallen EarthFallen Earth went ‘Free To Play’ at the end of last year, but I hadn’t heard much about it until Steam made mention of it earlier this year. First released in 2009 I believe, I probably ignored it as I was avoiding MMOs back then, its based upon the Unreal 3 engine and might look a bit dated to some now, but I thought I’d give it a try.

There is a definite Fallout feel to the game, what with the whole post-apocalyptic wasteland environment (based upon 1,000 sq. km of the Grand Canyon area), the mix of recovered and low tech, and large mutant animals/insects wandering around, but there are also elements of other post-apocalyptic material such as Mad Max, Gamma World, A Boy and his Dog, etc, etc.

Starting from ‘zip guns’ (modified paint ball weapons) and improvised melee weapons, using a horse (available from the tutorial), and with cast off makeshift armour, you make your way out into the world to try and improve your gear, collect poker chips (the in-game currency) and gain experience by doing the various quests for the many many quest givers in your chosen starter town. You can travel freely in Sector 1 and complete all of the starter town quests so even that inital choice doesn’t tie you down. Eventually you move up to firearms and following a quest chain build your own ATV.

Crafting is key, almost everything you will use can be player-crafted with enough of the right skill, and material nodes are plentiful, meaning that after the early stages money is not an issue as you harvest then make what you need, and sell your old gear and spare materials.

The character system is free-form, no classes, so you choose where to specialise and create your idea of your character from that.  Crafting skills improve through use allowing you to then harvest more complex materials.

They get around the respawn issue by having all players be clones that are re-lifed upon death, and the fact that players are clones plays heavily in the background story for why you are there doing what you are doing.

There are a few in-jokes in some of the characters and quests, but they’ve avoided being too overt about it probably to avoid being sued. Look out for the guy with the busted quad bike whose name sounds like it could be abbreviated to Ozzie for instance 🙂

Haven’t really had much chance to play with my friends on there, but in the early stages you can easily solo so no need to team even for supposedly ‘group’ missions. I hear Sector 2 is tougher and that is also where your choice of missions affects your relationship with the various factions that inhabit the area.

Players are mostly helpful, almost too helpful, as the same very simple questions get asked over and over in help chat, and are patiently fielded by both GMs (game developer employees) and Hazmats (player volunteers).

I haven’t noticed any bugs as such but there are periods of lag, a consequence I believe of the server being West Coast USA based, and the influx of players from the F2P launch and the Steam publicity. Lagging causes some weird issues such as controller failure (my character started going round in circles) or a disconnection warning after some laggy interaction.

So far I’m liking it.Hoping to get some more time on it with a buddy around the same level as me at the moment.

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Travelling at Warp 10

Star Trek OnlineNot even a month in to Star Trek Online and I’ve hit the level cap!

I’m not even a third of the way through the story missions (episodes) that form the back bone of the game and I have both a Star Fleet Officer and Klingon Defence Fleet Officer at level 50. The recent 2nd year anniversary special event even gave me top level cruisers to use with those characters. I’m going to finish playing through the story missions and see what the end game stuff is like but it feels like I’m mostly done already.

The game doesn’t actually lend itself to playing in a group (although you can form temporary teams and fleets to play together) because it just scales up the enemies for the number of players in a team, so I’ve spent most of my time soloing. You also get given a new ship at almost every rank promotion, and mission rewards (and captured loot) give you levelled equipment for your ship and ground teams, meaning that you buy very little, and have even less reason to use the crafting system (although I guess it will be useful at the later stages when your rank is maxed out and you won’t be levelling beyond the equipment you buy/make). Bridge Officers are also easy to come by and cheap to train with the exact skills you want them to have, meaning no real reason to trade for the rare skilled ones. This easy rise to the heights makes it feel like a very odd game.

Star Trek fans should love the game, the feel is all there; the ships, the away teams, enemies, costumes, weapons, etc, etc. The back stories/history seems to be a blend of the TV shows and the movies, including the new re-boot movie, and elements are borrowed from all over the genre. Just don’t expect it to be a difficult slog, it is ridiculously easy to progress, so take your time and enjoy the episodes.

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To Boldly Go…

Star Trek OnlineStar Trek Online went free-to-play on 17th January 2011 and a friend has recommended it, so I’m going to give this a look-see.

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Well, I got to Moria

The Lord of the Rings OnlineI quite like The Lord of the Rings Online. I have 2 level 50+ characters, they’ve reached Moria, which opens up another stage of the game, and Turbine are continuing to add to the game with a new expansion coming this year to raise the level cap even higher.

One of our group proposed forming a kinship, and we have a couple of new to LotRO players joining us, so a couple of us have been working on some low level characters so we can start a lvl 20+ group as an almost full fellowship. Should be interesting.

Depending upon which region packs you’ve bought you have multiple options of how to progress through the levels, so you don’t necessarily have to go through the same missions/stories with new characters, apart from the epics (that form the fundamental story missions).

Lord of the Rings Online has been a good time investment for me, and a lot of fun.

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No one simply walks into Mordor!

The Lord of the Rings OnlineThe Lord of the Rings Online went free-to-play (freemium) some time back and a friend recently suggested that I might like it. I’ve not played any MMORPGs apart from a brief flirt with Flyff a long time ago, so I wasn’t sure what I was expecting going in, but my last week and a half have vanished into a blur of questing 🙂

The install process is a bit long; you download a small installer, which then downloads (slowly) and installs 8Gb of files, then you run the launcher and it patches your game (why aren’t the current game files in the original install?), then you finally log-in to a game server and create a character (all in all it took about 5 hours!).

As with most current MMOs they are designed with pretty low system requirements to allow older PCs to still be able to play, but LotRO also supports some DirectX 10 and 11 rendering techniques (for water and shadows, etc) that make the world look much more beautiful when turned on. After heavily tweaking the settings, and going key-blind over the many, many keyboard shortcut options, I finally head out in the starter zone.

The starter zone begins with an ‘instance’ that leads you through the basics of controlling your character with a dramatic story-driven tutorial. These instances are race-specific and you will meet a significant character from the book (Humans meet Strider, Elves and Dwarves meet Elrond, etc). These Epic instances often link to important parts of the book, such as later in the Human Epic quest line visiting Tom Bombadil in the Old Forest and Weathertop.

You then move on to more general quests in low-level areas, with early quests gaining you your starting armour and weapons, crafting skills (and tutorials on how to craft), introducing the various trainers and suppliers you will need to interact with, etc. A lot of low-level quests are ‘fetch and carry’; go to person A, person A sends you to person B, person B gives you an item to deliver back to person A, or ‘harvest’; person A sends you to kill creature X until you collect Y item drops, return them to person A, etc. There are also Deeds, race, class, and area specific usually involving killing or collecting a certain amount of things, visiting all of the areas within a region, using specific skills a number of times, etc. There are even region-specific Tasks that you can perform, usually collecting x amount of ‘trophies’ which are specific drops from creatures.

You gain Turbine Points for some of this that can be used in the game store to buy some of the many, many things available (such as removing the 2 gold cap on free-to-play players), there is even a tutorial quest that shows you how that works 🙂

My first forays I played with a friend who was starting his fifth character. I felt a little out of my depth, because he knew where to go, etc, and I felt like I was just trailing round after him without much time to read the quest text, of which there isn’t a huge amount but it is relatively well written. I started an ‘Alt’ character to act as a gatherer for me, each craft relies on at least one other to supply crafting materials and I wanted to be able to stop asking my higher-level friends to gather low-level materials for me. I took my time with my Alt, reading all of the quest text, taking my time exploring new areas, etc. I would suggest new players play to somewhere between level 10 and 15 before joining up with more experienced players, although temporary fellowships (grouping) with similar beginners could be beneficial.

The quests gradually lead you into higher and higher level areas so there is always a challenge, and there are many, many quests to undertake.

I now have a character at level 25 yet still have much more to explore having only really visited 3 of the 16 major regions. There is still much more of the game for me to experience, I’ve only tried a few Instances (some are tough challenges, solo and group), I’ve barely started with Skirmishes (battle instances) and I’ve not participated in a Raid (group instances) yet.

Now, I’m off to explore. More later…

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